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One year later, AirPods Max are still the best headphones I've ever owned

Airpods Max Side
Airpods Max Side (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Today is the one-year anniversary of the launch of Apple's AirPods Max over-the-ear headphones.

I remember when they were initially announced. It was one of those incredible Apple products that, due to the pandemic, were forced to be debuted with a mere press release rather than the company's usual fanfare and a special event. Despite the usual method of the announcement, the headphones launched to such demand that the company struggled for months to keep them in stock for customers.

I also remember the reviews for the headphones when they were released. Everything always ended up boiling down to two things: they sound amazing, and they cost way too much. A year later, I believe only one of those things is true.

Airpods Max Iphone 11 Pro

Airpods Max Iphone 11 Pro (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

I've worked around high-end audio in the past so, when Apple revealed the price for AirPods Max, I wasn't too surprised. For one, you do pay a premium for the level of materials and design that go into Apple products, so I was expecting them to be at the high-end of what consumers would reasonably pay for a pair of over-the-ear headphones.

Secondly, I've seen the cost of high-end headphones for those into music recording, DJing, and more easily pass the $1000 mark so, with that $549 price point, I knew Apple was promising some of the best audio quality you'd ever find for a consumer-focused pair of headphones. It also, despite the complaints, did not stop consumers from buying the headphones in droves when they launched.

So, while the $549 has been seen as a high price for many, it has held its own when you compare it to the quality and experience you get out of the headphones once you put them on.

Airpods Max Earcups Magnetic Off

Airpods Max Earcups Magnetic Off (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

After using AirPods Max for about a year now, I can say that the experience of these headphones is phenomenal. If you love good audio and are in the Apple ecosystem, it's tough to find a better pair of over-the-ear headphones. Not only are they integrated with Find My and Apple's quick pairing and switching between devices features, but they sound incredible.

Now, sound quality can be subjective in a lot of ways - everyone has a different preference of what they want to hear. More bass, more treble, more detail, and a host of other preferences can make some headphones better for certain people. However, it is easy to recognize for most when you are wearing a pair of quality headphones. You can hear the difference. You hear more at higher volumes with more clarity and less distortion. And these headphones nail all of those things. You truly get immersed in what you are listening to.

They're also very comfortable. Despite their weight, which tends to be heavier when compared to other popular options due to their being made out of metal over plastic, they sit very comfortably on your head. You wouldn't catch an athlete wearing them to practice, but they will absolutely get you through your workday, commute, or flight with ease. The comfort of these headphones is probably one of its most underrated features.

Airpods Max Smart Case

Airpods Max Smart Case (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

That isn't to say that AirPods Max are perfect. You can't run with these things. You're not going to see someone taking a jog with AirPods Max like they go with Beats Studio or Beats Solo headphones. They also come with what is probably the worst case in the history of headphone cases. The price is also prohibitive for a lot of people.

However, those things shouldn't deter anyone who has the money and is looking for a phenomenal audio experience while living in Apple's walled garden. After a year, they're still the best headphones I've ever owned and I'm honestly not sure what Apple could even do to improve them from here.

The case? That's an entirely different story that could take up its own article.

Joe Wituschek
Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

6 Comments
  • I bought a pair and like them a lot but I think the AirPod Pros I have do a better job on ANC. Now the quality of the sound in the Max's is superior for sure.
  • Wish writers on Apple blogs/forums would start adopting gated community vs walled garden. Nothing stops you from entering or exiting, just a bit more exclusive within.
  • No USB-C? No thanks!
  • Lol, it's an Apple product what did you expect? You should have known the specs before you commented, these have been out for a while. I feel like you are trolling.
  • Oh please. The charging connector has nothing to do with anything. I had great headphones 30 years ago. They had a big cord with a big plug that you plugged into your big stereo. I still have great Sony headphones with a smaller cord and plug, from about 10 years ago.
  • After living with my pair for about eight months now, I am amazed at the airiness these closed back headphones possess. There remain some shortcomings in my opinion though: I wish I could get a bit more volume out of them. And the bass is great. Nice and tight, just wish there were a bit more. These image almost as well as my amped up Sennheiser HD6xx, and they get the midrange so right to my ears. Honestly, a really fine Job for Apple’s first try at a full size headphone.